Dé Luain, Meitheamh 02, 2008

So What's the Deal with Baseball?

I've often noticed how baseball is associated with children and "purity" more than other sports. The recent steroid scandal revealed an entire universe of commentators who are horrified by the example that the chiseled ass-juicers are setting for the children.

It's not that baseball is the only sport where ill-behaved players are berated for the lessons they are supposedly teaching the children. There are, after all, many people in this world who are rather stupid, and stupid people tend to believe stupid things, such that there is an objective, universal standard of masculinity that can be taught to boys through athletics; that a man's path to fulfillment lies in the pyramid of obedience, to dominate his wife and children as the quarterback dominates his players, and to be dominated by his employer as the quarterback is dominated by his coach.

The most galling thing about those who think that rectal vaccination against pop-fly outs is damaging to the children is the obtuseness of those who worry. These are grown adults who simply can't imagine themselves not being influenced by professional athletes, who simply can't imagine not watching sports and certainly can't imagine their children not watching sports. While it's clear that kids in general and boys in particular have some sort of natural impulse to run and play and compete, this is a different thing entirely from watching thirty-year old men do the same thing. This is something that can be indoctrinated or not. It is a choice. Watching a documentary instead of football is not a sign that you or your children are gay, watching large men work themselves into a lather by slamming themselves into each other is.

But to get back to my original point, it is strange how baseball is associated with "the children" than other sports. Baseball teams will often try to sell themselves as "family friendly." (The K.C. Royals in particular will use this line. Children can hardly hear any foul words when there isn't anyone in the stadium to speak them now can they?) "Bring the kids to the park" goes the jingle.

Baseball than, in its idealized form, is bucolic,morally pure and child-friendly; in other words Marian. The manner in which baseball is idolized, the way in which the public sensibility is SHOCKED by any suggestion of naughtiness in the game, makes it clear that some point in our history the collective American conscience came to associate the game of baseball with white women.

It is a damned strange phenomenon, and I don't have the slightest clue for when, where, and how this came to be, but it's certainly clear enough now isn't it? Perhaps it's the fact that baseball has historically been played by more clean-cut crackers than other professional sports. (Barry Bonds as devil.) but than their is also the prevalence of Latinos, the hot other of the month, in the game, and the defenders of youthful virtue are at least publicly unbothered by this, so I don't know.

I had a history professor once who offered a class called "Baseball is America." A real jackass that guy.

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